Reading Level: Middle Grade
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: 4th book in the Tales from the Sinister City
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
This is the fourth book in the Tales from the Sinister City; a series of stories featuring different sets of characters. This installment is probably my least favorite of the series, but it is still delightful creepy and disturbing. I love the dark gothic undertone to these books.
Rex lives in the town of Opum Oppidulum which has its own creepy Asylum that is located on an island out on a lake which contains a huge monster. Rex hates his stepmother but adores his inventive father. When his father is accused of being insane, Rex thinks his stepmother may be behind his father’s madness. How will Rex prove his father’s sanity and what disturbing and dark secrets will he uncover along the way?
This book is another delightfully creepy and dark book set outside a town that is similar to dark version of Victorian London. Like previous books this book deals with some uncomfortable topics; mainly insanity and torture with some cannabalism thrown in for good measure …did I mention this was a dark book? Given the topic I am not sure this is still appropriate for middle grade readers…so just beware of the subject.
The book is well written and full of wonderful descriptions that really make the atmosphere come alive. I really enjoy the way Higgins pieces the story together with newspaper articles and journal entries to make a complete picture. I love how the different pieces of media give the reader glimpses of the whole story.
The characters are well enough done; Rex and a young girl are the feature characters. I liked that Rex was into inventing things and loved that the girl was determined to find out about her past. Still, both of the characters didn’t resonate with me like the characters in the previous books have…the characters are hard to like and engage with.
There were a couple aspects of the story that I really enjoyed. I liked the steampunk feel to it; with Rex helping to build a crazy underwater walking machine. I loved the monster that dwelled in the lake; it was mysterious and eerie.
This was a much darker story overall though. The icky factor was much higher than in the previous three books; more on the order of Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist series than the previous book in this series. This made the story hard to enjoy; there are just so many dark and depraved things that happen in this book. The whole storyline is hinged on cannabalism and even our protagonist doesn’t escape unscathed.
The book ends okay; let’s just say it’s a pretty depressing read overall. I ended up not enjoying the book as much as all of the others. It was just too dark, disturbing, and depressing.
Overall an okay addition to this series. It is well written and has some really great parts to it; I love the inventing and the monster in the lake. I did not enjoy all of the cannibalism, torture, and the depressing nature of the story. I also had some trouble engaging with the characters. I would recommend this book to fans of Yancey’s Monstrumologist series; but would warn fans of this series that this is a much darker book than previous ones. I will most likely continue to read this series, if the next book follows in this book’s path then I will probably stop.